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n African Security Review - Private military contracting in weak states : permeation or transgression of the new public management of security? : features
New Public Management (NPM) models the emerging public administration orthodoxy. With the aim of raising the efficiency of government, the theory and practice of NPM favour the participation of private firms in public service provision. Out go bureaucracies and traditional public administration; in come flexible management and private sector input into the affairs of government.
From welfare services to defence, this paradigmatic strategy has proven to be applicable to any aspect of the public sector and its influence is global in scope. The trend towards NPM reform has been gaining momentum since the 1990s and it has unfolded alongside the proliferation of private military companies (PMCs). The shift of the global political economy towards neo-liberalism has contributed considerably to this transformation. Against this background, key structural changes in the relationship between the public and private sectors that have contributed to the emergence of new modalities for the management of state security are discussed in this article.
The notional underpinnings of NPM are discussed first. Second, through a focus on the robust outsourcing and contracting out dynamic of Western states, there is an overview of the operational logic of the NPM of security. In this regard it should be noted that many PMCs originating in these countries operate in weak states, where government and the market economy are embryonic structures. Third, noting that the handling of military and security tasks by PMCs to some extent can be extrapolated in such cases, it is argued that there appears to be three emerging modalities for the privatisation of security characteristic to weak states, in particular in sub-Saharan Africa. The identification of variants of the NPM of security allows the author to propose that the efficiency assumed to be inherent in NPM will remain elusive unless both countries that supply PMCs and those that are predominantly receptors of their services synchronise NPM reform.
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